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Glossary of Oral Health Terms

Abrasion - tooth wear caused by forces other than chewing, such as improper brushing

Abutment - a tooth or an implant that supports an artificial device replacing teeth

Amalgam - an alloy used in dental restorations

Arch - upper or lower jaw

Band - a metal ring orthodontists cement to a tooth to strengthen and anchor it

Bonding - a composite resin applied to change the shape or color of a tooth

Bruxism - grinding and clenching of teeth during the day or while sleeping

Calculus - a hard deposit of mineralized material adhering to crowns or roots of teeth

Caries - tooth decay

Cementum - the hard connective tissue covering the tooth root

Composite Resin - a synthetic resin, usually acrylic based, to which a high percentage of inner filler has been added

Crown - an artificial covering that can cover or replace the major or whole part of a tooth

Dentin - the part of the tooth beneath enamel and cementum

Enamel - hard, calcified tissue of the crown of a tooth

Gingivitis - inflammation of the soft gingival tissues that encircle the necks of teeth

Impacted tooth - one blocked from surfacing, partly or completely, by another tooth, bone or tissue

Implant - a device that is placed surgically in bone as support for a prosthesis

Malocclusion - improper alignment of biting and chewing surfaces of upper and lower teeth

Mandible - lower jaw

Maxilla - upper jaw

Palate - the hard and soft tissues forming the roof of the mouth

Plaque - a soft, sticky, naturally occurring substance that accumulates on teeth

Pulp - the connective tissue inside the tooth containing blood vessels and nerves

Retainer - a device used to stabilize teeth

Root canal - treatment of disease and injury of the pulp

Scaling - a procedure to remove plaque, calculus, and stains from teeth

Veneer - a tooth covering that may be made of porcelain, ceramic, composite or acrylic resin